MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis is a city on a mission for greatness.
It’s a city on the edge, a city divided. But it’s ours, and this is our chance for a better tomorrow.
It’s time to heal old wounds, and create new stories of success, by educating our children and by making sure there are enough jobs and everyone feels safe in their own home.
In this chapter of Memphis: On a Mission, WREG’s Stephanie Scurlock explores the city’s battle against gangs, and why it takes more than just police to win the war.
Burglary is the crime most Memphians are affected by, but they fear shootings and murder most.
Since criminologist Richard Janikowski started tracking the data in 2006, the number of burglaries and thefts has dropped almost every year. Violent crime like robberies and assaults are way down from 2006, but are starting to creep up again, partially because of the rise in domestic violence cases.
“If a person has grown up in a family where there’s violence, violence is the way you solve conflict. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong with it. It happens in the house, and then it spills over in the streets,” Olliette Murry-Drobot with the Family Safety Center said.
Crime is concentrated in ten percent of a city. In Memphis, that ten percent is in hot spots throughout the city, which is why Memphis police set up the Community Outreach Program. Since the program started, gun violence is down.
One community leader even went to the White House for help. Charlie Caswell, the Rangeline Community Development Corp. director, got a $225,000 grant to start the Unity in the Community program, through which neighbors are recruited to be ambassadors and paid $50 a month to help improve the safety and looks of the community.
To continue making a difference lowering crime and unemployment rates requires money; unfortunately, the Memphis City Council rejected giving Frayser more money because it’s scrambling to balance a budget and give employees raises.
The council is also faced with the challenge of keeping enough police on the streets. The city lost 165 police officers in the past year. The number is rising each month, and there’s only one recruit class scheduled this year.
“(There) is a tipping point where there aren’t enough officers, and crime goes shooting through the ceiling,” Janikowski said. “We don’t want Memphis to cross that tipping point.”